Last week was a big week for ITSAZOO. We got news we had been waiting for for many years. After 8 applications over 4 years we finally got our first Canada Council Project grant. Wow! The grant was for our spring tour of Chairs. This grant means that we all get paid to do the show. It means that we can stay in hostels, B&Bs and motels instead of just on people’s couches for 3 weeks. It means that we can afford to rent a vehicle for travel without going in to debt. It means that we are becoming a real, professional theatre company.
In 2006 ITSAZOO incorporated as a non-profit. The first thing I did was write a grant application to the Canada Council and the Capital Regional District in Victoria. I had no idea what I was doing for either of them. I just made it up. It was a struggle but I knew it was important and that this was why we had incorporated so I created my first ever budget (with a lot of guess work) and wrote my first ever artistic statement and sent them off. We soon found out that we got the CRD grant. It was amazing! I assumed the Canada Council grant was going to have the same result. No such luck.
But I kept it up. Every year, twice a year I wrote the grant, waited for the result and got rejected. Every year for four years. I didn’t give up. We changed cities, we got municipal funding in Vancouver, we got provincial funding, we got foundation funding, we got presented, we grew and still no Canada Council grant. My saving grace and the thing that kept me going was Kim Selody, one of the officers at the Canada Council. Every time we got rejected I would call him and he would painstakingly walk me through every detail of the jurors’ conversation and explain to me exactly what he felt we needed to do in order to get one step closer to the money. I poured over the notes from the conversations with him and dumped every ounce of heart and creativity and business savvy that I had in to the applications. And finally on Monday the good news came. I got a message from Kim Selody telling me that ITSAZOO was successful. I cried, literally. I was sitting with Sebastien and Angie (our awesome intern) in our living room and just cried. Then jumped up and down and yelled and called the board and Colby and reworked the budget and posted it on Facebook and drank beer.
I am very proud of us this week and we are all very excited for the future because with this grant comes renewed hope that we are going to be able to continue doing what we love to do. And maybe some day make a liveable wage doing it.